Surgeon Dr. Martin Salia is now the second person to die of Ebola on U.S. soil. Salia’s wife and children live in Maryland, and he had been working in Sierra Leone. An initial test for Ebola returned a false negative, delaying the beginning of treatment for Salia. He had been working as the chief medical officer and surgeon at the Kissy United Methodist Hospital in the Sierra Leone capital of Freetown.
When Salia was finally airlifted to Nebraska Medical Center, director of critical care Daniel Johnson reports that they had to begin treating Salia for kidney and respiratory failure by placing him on dialysis and a ventilator. He also received the experimental ZMapp therapy as well as plasma from a surviving Ebola patient. Phil Smith, the director of the Bioontainment Unit at the Nebraska Medical Center reports that every possible treatment was used and that the advanced state of Dr. Salia’s infection contributed to his demise.
Despite knowing the risks associated with working in West Africa, Salia felt like he was needed there. Salia’s wife released a statement saying, “We’re very grateful for the efforts of the team led by Dr. Smith. In the short time we spent here. It was apparent how caring and compassionate everyone was. We are so appreciative of the opportunity for my husband to be treated here and believe he was in the best place possible.”
The announcement of Salia’s death was made by Dr. Smith, who stated, “It is with an extremely heavy heart that we share this news. Dr. Salia was extremely critical when he arrived here, and unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we weren’t able to save him.” The White House released an official statement regarding Salia’s death, calling it, “another reminder of the human toll of this disease and of the continued imperative to tackle this epidemic on the frontlines.”
Salia was the tenth known Ebola patient in the United States. Thomas Eric Duncan, who died in October, is the only other American to die in the United States from the disease.